What Are the Main Differences Between Gypsy and Bohemian Style Wear?

gypsy and bohemian style

You know you want to add some new pieces to your wardrobe, and you're going for a fun, free-spirited look. There's just one problem. You're not sure where to start, and you don't know what to say when asked, “what style are you looking for?”

Especially if you're not a seasoned fashion enthusiast, it can be difficult to differentiate between gypsy and bohemian style clothing. If you're headed into a shop, knowing the distinctions between the two can make it easier to communicate to stylists exactly what you're looking for. 

Both styles of wear are generally associated with counterculture, but that doesn't mean the terms are synonymous. Read on to learn how you can distinguish between the two, and which fits your personal style better.

Why Are Gypsy and Bohemian Style Often Conflated?

This question has an easy answer, and it ties back to the history behind the terms. “Bohemian” is the French term for “gypsy,” referring to the Romani people who migrated to France from Central Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Today, it has become offensive to use the word “gypsy” to describe the Romani people, as the term is rooted in a history of racism and discrimination that continues into the modern day. 

The Romani people were seen as subversive and outside the mainstream culture. This is why fashion trends and cultural movements inspired by this group are often seen as counter-culture. In the 60s and 70s, the bohemian style was popular among “hippies,” or those that rebelled against the mainstream politics and culture of the time. 

Both the bohemian and gypsy styles are often associated with artistic and free-spirited lifestyles. “Bohemian” is also often used to refer to a subculture of people interested in unconventional ways of life, art, and creativity. Virginia Woolf, 20th-century novelist and author of the famous book Mrs. Dalloway, is a great example.

Likewise, there are hundreds of recognized Romani artists, including Pablo Picasso, who pioneered Cubism in the art world. People who identify as “gypsy” often also align with artistic inclinations and creativity.

“Gypsy” Style

Gypsy style is often associated with bright colors and flowy silhouettes. Like bohemian style, garments often loosely fit but feature more saturated tones rather than earthy tones. 

In terms of accessories, jangly gold and silver jewelry, with coin-like motifs, are extremely popular. 

How to Identify Bohemian Style

The fashion inspired by the bohemian lifestyle is often also referred to as “boho chic.” Silhouettes are often quite feminine and oversized and are adorned with a mixture of patterns, prints, and fringes. 

Color palettes historically associated with the style, especially in the 60s and 70s as it gained popularity among hippies, were often neutral and earth-toned. However, this doesn't rule out other hues. Colors can range from pinks to blues to purples, they're just often more subdued. 

Bohemian fashion also typically derives inspiration from earthy materials such as hemp and other natural fibers like cotton or linen. Patterns also draw from earthy textures and Celtic influences.

Here are some key characteristics of the boho-chic style:

  • Neutral tones, with a combination of warm and cool hues
  • Mixed-and-matched patterns and textures, like geometrics and ethnic prints
  • Handmade pieces with a vintage feel
  • Natural materials like wood, leather, and linens
  • Decors like pom poms, fringe, and embroidery

When searching for bohemian apparel, it can be less daunting when you know exactly what garments you're looking for. Here are some styles to keep an eye out for. 

Dresses

Dresses are extremely popular pieces in boho-chic style. They're often loosely tailored and straight-cut. This means they have an A-line silhouette. 

When looking at sleeves, these dresses will often have bell-shaped ones. They'll also often feature brighter designs and vibrant printing. Mix-and-match patterning is also popular here.

Other features to keep an eye out for are pom-poms, fringe, and embroidered hems.

Tops and Blouses

Tops are often quite loose around the torso and feature bell- and bishop-style sleeves. Sleeves are often half-length or three-quarters. They're often adorned with busy patterns and prints, as well as decorations like pom-poms and fringes.

Bottoms

For pants, denim is popular. Jeans with flared bottoms or loose fits are often popular, and will often feature embroidery or another type of patterning. You'll also find many flowy linens, often white, beige, or other soft tones.

Skirts are perhaps the most popular bottom attire in boho-chic fashion. They'll often feature mixed prints or embroidery.

Footwear

Earthy and wooden tones are extremely popular in boho-chic footwear. Also prevalent are sandals, chunky heels, and boots. Like the other pieces of clothing, shoes are often fashioned from natural materials like wood and earth-toned suede. 

Warm hues of greys and browns can help tie footwear together with the rest of the outfit.

Outerwear

Denim is extremely popular among bohemian fashionistas. A classic denim jacket will accentuate any boho-chic outfit.

Sherpa is another popular material. Whether it's used as a lining in a denim jacket, or a stand-alone material for a piece of outerwear, its earthy tones, and soft texture accentuate the bohemian look. 

Accessorizing

Fringed bags are extremely popular staples in bohemian style. They often are made from suede or other similarly textured materials, and hang low on the body. Other purse options include drawstring bags, also made from similar materials and feature earth tones.

In terms of jewelry, look for oversized pieces. These will often feature rough-edged stones and crystals. These pieces need not be gaudy, but simply incorporate natural materials (and often have an antique charm to them).

How to Curate Your New Wardrobe

So, you've decided you love this boho-chic aesthetic. How can you incorporate it into your new gypsy and bohemian style wardrobe?

The best way to gain inspiration for a new closet is to look at celebrities that exemplify the trends well. Some great jumping-off points are Stevie Nicks and Zoe Kravitz.

For more inspiration, check out our collections here.

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